THE HUMMINGBIRD BAKERY
Foodies around the world have called the closure of American cupcake franchise Crumbs Bake Shop the beginning of the end for the era of the cupcake. While the stylish food that supposedly got its big break on an episode of Sex and the City back in 2000 may be on the outs with consumers in the US, the rest of the world is only just getting started and British bake shop The Hummingbrid Bakery is at the forefront of the movement.
Perhaps the most Instagramed object on the planet, cupcakes are not only delish but they’re a thing of divine perfection. A decade ago in 2004, Tarek Malouf recognizes these pint-sized cakes as a business opportunity. Differing from fairy cakes, cupcakes have a flat top and are only to be iced with butter cream and cream cheese icing as opposed to fondant. With the encouragement from his sister in New York City who was familiar with the famed Magnolia Bakery—where said SATC episode took place— he opened Hummingbird Bakery’s first location in the Notting Hill neighbourhood of London, England.
Hummingbird quickly grew to six locations across London and soon the Middle East also wanted in on the action; with a large Arab consumer base in the summers, Malouf joined forces with Daud Arabian for a franchise agreement in Dubai.
Their first location opened in the Dubai Mall in September 2012. Malouf now has plans to launch another 20 locations clear across the Middle East including Qatar and Jordan over the next decade.
But it’s just a cupcake you say. Anyone can make a cupcake. What’s so special about Malouf ’s recipe for success? It’s all in his supply chain. Each of his bake shops sell product that is freshly baked and decorated on a daily basis in-house.each dessert chef is able to ice a tray of 24 cupcakes in a jaw-dropping four minutes. This speed guarantees visitors a cupcake of their choice on arrival. For those not under the cupcake spell, there are any number of pasties available including pies, rainbow layered party cake, cookies and perhaps the best coffee I’ve had in years.
What I personally appreciate most about Hummingbird is the innovative ingredients and decoration they use on each of their creations. For example, in celebration of American Independence Day back in July, they created a flavour in honour of the cupcake’s country of origin. The cake itself was a perfectly moist Southern tea cake made with cinnamon, banana, pecans and a secret ingredient: pineapple. The finishing touch was red, white and blue icing decorations. It just worked! I haven’t stopped thinking about that cupcake since.
The bakery’s most popular cupcake on their roster is without a doubt Red Velvet. Their version of the classic flavour is so tantalizing it has been known to cause even Gwyneth Paltrow to break her gluten- free, macro- biotic, nocarb routine. It’s a little known fact that the Red Velvet recipe claims roots in Toronto.
With a bestselling cookbook already in stores and Hummingbird’s rapid expansion in the Middle East fully underway, the little bake shop shows no signs of slowing down. In 2010 they set their first in-house record of selling a million cupcakes in less than a year. In 2011, they beat their own record by two whole months. As for the future of Hummingbird, only one thing is certain; it involves me waiting on the sidelines for an inevitable bespoke line of Middle Eastern flavours.
“Malouf now has plans to launch another twenty locations clear across the Middle East including Qatar and Jordan over the next decade”
Their most popular cupcake on their roster is without a doubt Red Velvet. Their version of the classic flavour is so tantalizing it has been known to cause even Gwyneth Paltrow to break her gluten-free, macro-biotic, no-carb routine. It’s a little known fact that the Red Velvet recipe claims roots in Toronto.
Back in the 1940s and 1950s, the cake was a popular dessert at the bakeries at Eaton’s department store. It was promoted as an exclusive Eaton’s recipe with the bakers sworn to silence as many believed it was a recipe written by Lady Eaton herself. The truth behind the strange colouring could be simply chalked up to rationing during World War II. Because food colouring was scarce, bakers used beet juice to colour their desserts. Food colouring also had the property of retaining moisture in baked goods so the recipe stuck.
The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf retails on Amazon.ca starting at $23.79. Visit any of the bakery’s seven locations in London or Dubai the next time you’re travelling: https:// hummingbirdbakery.com